Essays on Managing People Is Like Herding Cats and Cats Won't Allow Themselves to Be Herded Coursework

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The paper "Managing People Is Like Herding Cats and Cats Won't Allow Themselves to Be Herded" is a great example of management coursework. Leading and managing organisations have been compared to herding cats. This is an idiomatic saying which refers to making an attempt of controlling chaotic and uncontrollable entities. The idiomatic saying refers to a task which is difficult to carry out. In management, most managers feel like they spend most of their time's herding cats rather than leading their projects. This is due to the fact that workers have varying drivers and intentions making them run in different directions (Gordon, 2009).

The pressure from the multigenerational workforce and diversity requires a change in management attitudes. This leads to a need for change from traditional hierarchical management to empowering followers. Managers are required to learn ways in which they can work better with their teams. This report is based on Warren Bennis claim that "managing people is like herding cats and cats won't allow themselves to be herded" (Bennis, 1999). The essay shows how this approach is helpful in understanding management.

This is attained through the use of different management theories showing how they support or refute Bennis’ view. Management involves designing an environment where the workers can accomplish their aims in an effective manner. Managers have five main functions which are; planning, organising, staffing controlling and leading based on traditional management theories. Through management, it becomes possible for individuals to make the best contributions to the organisation (Gordon, 2009). Effective management is the main concern in every organisation. This is due to the fact that management determines the success of the organisation.

Managing is a very important activity for human beings. It is thus vital to ensure that the task of managing is not made difficult like herding cats. Through proper management, it becomes possible to accomplish more than we could as individuals. The management ensures that the individual efforts in an organisation are coordinated. Bennies view is thus vital in management as it gives a glimpse of what would happen in poor management. Management theory has been a crucial part of managing complex organisations. Through the management theories, it becomes possible to make the seemingly hard task of management easier (Meredith Belbin, 2011). The chief goal for managers is to enable an environment where individuals are able to accomplish their goals based on limited time, money and materials (Gordon, 2009).

This is through ensuring that there is the achievement of much as possible through utilising the available resources. A manager who is able to attain this goal is referred to as strategic. Managers are also expected to be productive. This is through effectively performing the managerial tasks as well as other tasks.

The output-input ratio for the managers must be as high as possible (Pfeffer, 2005). Despite the claim by Bennis view that managing people is like herding cats, Henri Fayol proposed principles for effective management. He asserted that management can be successful through specialisation, authority, discipline, unit of command, direction, and division of interests and line of authority among other aspects. Fayol claimed that use of specialisation leads to a high level of improvement in skills and methods among the workers. He also asserted that in management, there must be right to give orders to the subordinates (Parker & Ritson, 2005).

The subordinates must show obedience to leadership. For management to be successful there must be a shared effort among all the staff. Employees must be ready to comply with management while the management shows proper leadership. An organisation should have a direct line of command. This ensures that there is no conflict in commands. This also leads to management moving towards a common goal (Raduan, Jegak, Haslinda & Alimin, 2009). This makes management to be successful, unlike herding cats.


Bennis, W. G. 1999. Managing people is like herding cats: Warren Bennis on leadership. Executive Excellence Pub.

George, G. R. 2009. Contemporary Management (Sixth ed.). (B. Gordon, Ed.) New York, NY, USA: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

Gordon, V. H. 2009. “Early twentieth century management theories and models that shaped twenty-first century school leadership.” Journal of Philosophy & History of Education, Vol.59, no.1, p. 67-70.

Meredith Belbin, R. 2011. “Management teams: Why they succeed or fail.” Human Resource Management International Digest, Vol.19, no.3, p.234.

Miller, K. D., & Tsang, E. W. 2011. “Testing management theories: critical realist philosophy and research methods.” Strategic Management Journal, Vol.32, no.2, p.139-158.

Parker, L. D., & Ritson, P. A. 2005. “Revisiting Fayol: anticipating contemporary management.” British Journal of Management, Vol.16, no.3, p.175-194.

Pfeffer, J. 2005. “Why do bad management theories persist? A comment on Ghoshal.” Academy of Management Learning & Education, Vol.4, no.1, p.96-100.

Raduan, C. R., Jegak, U., Haslinda, A., & Alimin, I. I. 2009. “Management, strategic management theories and the linkage with organizational competitive advantage from the resource-based view.” European Journal of Social Sciences, Vol.11, no.3, p.402-418.

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